What attracted you to swimming?
For me, it was the challenge of it all. 14 is considered quite late to start swimming at a competitive level, so the girls I would race were often much faster than me. I enjoyed the challenge of improving myself, setting goals and going after them. That feeling of reaching a goal you’ve worked hard for is what kept me in the sport for so long. That daily mental and physical challenge was difficult, which is what made it all the more rewarding.
What is your career highlight?
Two career highlights spring to mind – the first would be the 2007 World Championships. It was held in Melbourne and the atmosphere created by the home crowd was electric. Our relay team won gold on the first night by a fingernail as the underdogs. It was my first taste of international success and I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
The other highlight was the 2012 Olympic games in London. I had qualified after taking a year off swimming, and fulfilled my childhood dream of winning an Olympic gold medal on the first night, anchoring our relay team. As if it couldn’t get any better, I was able to follow it up with two silver medals later in the week. It really was a fairytale for me.
What skills have you learned from training that you apply to parenthood?
There are so many skills you learn in sport, no matter what level you reach – persistence, determination, goal setting, time management. All of these skills come in handy as a parent as I’m sure all mums and dads will agree. If I had to pick one, the most important skill I mastered in the pool is probably resilience.
In elite sport, things don’t always go to plan, and you need to learn how to bounce back. As a mum, I make mistakes all the time. I say things I wish I didn’t, I react in ways I shouldn’t have, I make the wrong decisions – but each time I do, I learn from it and try to be better next time.
What can parents do to keep kids safe?
Supervision is absolutely number one. Parents must put their phones down and watch their kids in the water (that includes in the bath!). But of course, swimming lessons will teach kids water safety skills so they can potentially save themselves if they ever got into trouble.
The Poolwerx Learn2Swim week is a great initiative that provides free swimming lessons to kids under the age of five, and can serve as a good reminder to us all of how important water safety is for kids.
I will never regret taking my daughter to swimming lessons, but I know if something were to ever happen to her, I would regret it knowing I didn’t.